There are 43 state medical marijuana programs in the U.S., yet limited evidence is available on the demographic characteristics of the patient population accessing these programs. Moreover, insights into the social and structural barriers that inform patients’ success in accessing medical marijuana are limited. A current gap in the scientific literature exists regarding generalizable data on the social, cultural, and structural mechanisms that hinder access to medical marijuana among qualifying patients.
[Photo: Dr. Celina I. Valencia, postdoctoral research associate, Arizona]
Researchers at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health conducted a systematic review to identify the mechanisms that inform disparities in access to medical marijuana in the U.S. The findings are published online on August 7, in the journal Systematic Reviews.
This scoping review protocol outlines the proposed study design for the systematic review and evaluation of peer-reviewed scientific literature on structural barriers to medical marijuana access. The protocol follows the guidelines set forth by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P) checklist.
The overarching goal of the study is to rigorously evaluate the existing peer-reviewed data on access to medical marijuana in the U.S. Income, ethnic background, stigma, and physician preferences have been posited as the primary structural barriers influencing medical marijuana patient population demographics. Identification of structural barriers to accessing medical marijuana provides a framework for future policies and programs. Evidence-based policies and programs for increasing medical marijuana access help minimize the disparity of access among qualifying patients.